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Andrew Leland, a PhD candidate at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education, has spent a great deal of time studying the social, emotional and cognitive outcomes of children raised by two fathers and recently shared some of his findings about how gay dads differ from heterosexual ones.
The most recent data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimates that almost 40,000 U.S. households consist of two fathers raising children.
Leland interviewed fathers from 20 two-father families living in the Northeast and has done a lot of scholarly research on same-sex families. While his interviewees are hardly a representative sample of all two-father families, his interviews and other research still yield some interesting conclusions:
Father couples fall in (and out of) traditional work/home roles
Generally, Leland has observed that two-father households can fall into “traditional” roles where one dad is the primary income provider and the other handles domestic tasks or where the children go to a caretaker while the two men work full-time jobs.
However, many two-father families also divide household and work tasks based on each man’s individual strengths rather than just resigning each to all the “homemaker” and “breadwinner” roles, regardless of one’s talents.
Gay dads are more involved in school and community than straight parents
A 2008 study of 588 LGBT parents conducted by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that gay dads were more likely than heterosexual dads to be involved in school-based activities like being a classroom parent, teacher’s assistant, book reader, PTA member, event organizer or school board member.
Leland and other researchers conclude that this increased participation may come in part from the fathers’ desire to counter bias and assert same-sex visibility and inclusion in schools.
“Gay dads prefer schools and communities that are safe and inclusive,” Leland said. “They want [anti-gay] judges … and lawmakers bent on barring them from fatherhood to see that two-dad families are for the most part just like any other family.”
(Featured image by CREATISTA via iStock Photography)